Counties can opt-in to provide rent supplements for low-income tenants
√ Funding aimed at helping those experiencing homelessness or facing eviction
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $100 million is available for counties to help homeless individuals and families leave the shelter system for a permanent home by providing rental assistance. The funds may also help very-low-income New Yorkers pay their rent and increase their housing security.
Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the New York State Rental Supplement Program will provide funding to localities in all 57 counties and New York City to offer rental assistance to individuals and families who are currently experiencing homelessness or facing the imminent loss of housing.
"Everyone deserves the dignity of a roof over their head, yet the pandemic has inflamed housing insecurity and made it difficult for many New Yorkers to pay their rent," Hochul said. "With far too many pushed to the brink of homelessness, this assistance – the first of its kind in many counties outside New York City – will provide a stopgap measure to keep struggling renters in their homes, while helping those in the shelter system secure permanent housing."
The Rental Supplement Program is now the primary state-funded rental assistance program available for New Yorkers who are struggling to pay their rent. Adopted as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget, the program is providing nearly $68 million for New York City, and more than $32 million to all other counties throughout the state. Counties will have the flexibility to develop a program that meets the needs of their underserved populations.
Households seeking the rent supplement may earn no more than 50% of the area median income (AMI) to be eligible, with initial priority given to those earning 30% or less. Half of the supplements are earmarked for families or individuals that are in shelters or experiencing homelessness, and the program are available to all eligible households, regardless of their immigration status.
Rental supplement amounts will be funded at 85% of the local fair market rent values, with localities having the option to pay up to 100% by using local funds. A household receiving the supplement will contribute no more than 30% of its total earned income toward the monthly rent. The supplement can only be used for forthcoming rental payments, with local social service districts determining coverage for arrears, which can only be paid with local funds.
Each county or locality must opt into the program and submit a distribution plan to OTDA. They may choose to directly administer their allocation or delegate it to another public agency, contractor, or nonprofit organization.
OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, "The economic turmoil resulting from the global pandemic laid bare the struggles of so many New Yorkers, including those on the cusp of or experiencing homelessness. This funding will help counties move additional individuals and families from a homeless shelter to permanent housing, and provide a safety net to prevent low-income households from falling into housing insecurity or homelessness. I applaud Gov. Hochul's leadership for helping to make these rental supplements a reality for struggling households across our state."
New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said, "Addressing the statewide challenge of homelessness requires a holistic approach focused on preventing homelessness wherever possible while also providing those experiencing homelessness with the tools and resources needed to exit shelter and move into permanent housing. Today's important announcement by Gov. Hochul provides our city with vital funding that will build on the important progress we've made at NYC DSS connecting more than 175,000 New Yorkers in need to permanent housing since 2014. We thank the governor and all our partners in Albany for their assistance in support of our shared mission to help New Yorkers experiencing homelessness stabilize their lives and return to independent living."
In November, New York submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Treasury for an additional $996 million. In the meantime, the state is actively implementing several initiatives to protect tenants, including providing $25 million in funding for free legal services for tenants and a much-needed increase in rental voucher amounts through Family Homeless and Eviction Protection Supplement, which thanks to legislation signed last week by Hochul, will now help more families avoid eviction.